According to Watts Humphrey* the first of the Six Basic Principles of process change is:
Changes Start at the Top...
Senior Management Leadership is required to launch the change effort
and to provide continuing resources and priority
It is an axiom of process change--of any kind of change in organizations--that if it the change does not have the necessary degree of visibility and support at the level at which it is resourced, it will fail.
Our experience has been that all kinds of changes, when they are driven by the practitioners within the company, need to actively solicit and maintain effective sponsorship. Yet most practitioners are more absorbed in the details of getting the changes defined and implemented and can be totally blindsided when the resources are withdrawn, or other priorities interfere and even cause cancellation of the initiative.
Process change agents and champions must consciously and intentionally set up a program to address sponsorship needs. With our long term focus on process changes, Corvus has for a way that provides this stability and correctly aligns the initiatives with the true (though sometimes unrecognized and under-appreciated) business pressures that occur within organizations.
Each business is different and the sponsorship program must be carefully tailored to the facts on the ground. But there are some consistent themes:• Ensure the initiative is truly aligned with the organization's needs
This usually means translating the initiative into clearly defined profit goals.• Analyze the supporting and resisting forces
We often use a "Force Field Analysis" approach to this. Identifying the real reason why people resist changes helps to provide the necessary counter-measures without forcing the resistance underground.• Support advocates, neutralize opponents
Through careful consideration of the organizational structures, roles and responsibilities, political forces, and individual personalities, the change group can provide the advocates with what they need to continue advocating and prevent the opponents from being effective in opposition..• Build a sponsorship succession plan
This is to ensure continuation of support when the inevitable personnel changes and reorganizations occur• Implement "Customer Service" plan
Develop and implement a "customer service" plan that specifically targets the key stakeholders (either supporters or opponents of the change) and provides them with what they truly need aligned with the proposed change.Each situation is different, but without taking care of the true sponsoring customer base for a process change, all of the good work will be lost.